Meet the unschoolers

A small but growing number of families is rejecting traditional education models in favour of 'unschooling' with no lessons, no grades and no rules. Could the ideas of this fringe movement grow to inform the future of education?

Twelve-year-old Ishaan Banerji emerges from his bedroom at 1pm on a balmy Pune afternoon and shuffles towards his drum kit. Soon the careful rhythm of his drumming fills the apartment he shares with his mother and elder sister. Banerji certainly looks the part: his lopsided bangs fall on to one side of his forehead, a look inspired by the popular American YouTuber and gamer Markiplier.

Unlike most children his age, whose lives are regimented by timetables at school and parenting rule books at home, Ishaan enjoys total autonomy. He has never attended school, has no fixed bedtime or screen-time restrictions, and is free to make what he likes of his unstructured days. His routine, for the past few weeks, has been to “wake up, brush, play video games". He cites Minecraft, a strategy game he’s played for over five years, and newer games like Overwatch as his most influential teachers. “Video games are the reason I learnt how to read," he says. By age 9, Ishaan could read and write, largely propelled by a need to engage on gaming chats and enter Google search words.

Ishaan is part of a small but growing community of “unschoolers", children who live on their own terms, and learn at their own pace. While it is considered a subset of homeschooling, there is a vital difference between the two. Unschoolers receive no formal lessons, not even in reading, writing or basic arithmetic. Instead, unschooling parents believe that we underestimate, and at times suppress, a child’s natural ability to learn by supplying them with regimented doses of information. When instruction is supplanted by natural curiosity, learning can be impassioned and significantly more enjoyable. Unschooling parents take on the role of learning facilitators, supplying information and resources—books, DVDs, even private tutors and formal classes—based on their child’s interests and choices. This can include normal schooling, if the child demands it.....Read more


Source web page: Livemint

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